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The TW explores the future of sport at the convergence of four emerging trends, the quantified self, evolved to run, a return to nature and synthetic biology.

With these trends in mind, I imagined a near future where NIKE takes evolved genomes and genetically modifies them to advance sport. The TW+ is a synthesized tapeworm that is ingested by the athlete, followed a week later by a tracer pill. After several months of training and up to a year after ingestion, a second tracer pill is taken, the tapeworm is voided, and then the product is sent into NIKE to be analysed.

The makeup and development of the tapeworm is translated into detailed information about the activity and state of the athlete over the time of use, and this internal data is lined up against other training metrics to further our understanding of the athlete and enhance performance. Future iterations of the TW+ could synthesize supplements and drugs within the athletes body for delivery directly to the blood stream.

Quantified Self: This movement is one where individuals gather more and more data about themselves, from lap times, to food intake, to heart rates, sleep times, to blood glucose levels, and on and on. They use this data to begin self experimentation in hopes of improving performance. The success of NIKE+ is a perfect example of the excitement around this space.

Evolved to Run: This idea grows out of recent research showing the human body is a machine honed over hundreds of thousands of years to perfectly handle running impact loads, and that modern running shoes actually negatively affect human gait, creating non-natural and inefficient weight bearing movements. Barefoot running is gaining popularity as a realisation that nature and evolution are often smarter then our modern technologies.

Return to Nature: Humans have evolved with tapeworms over hundreds and thousands of years, and only in the past few hundred years, with changes in hygiene, have we begun to live without them. Recent experiments have begun to reintroduce different worms to the human body as a way to treat allergies, prompting new questions about evolved parasitic relationships.

Synthetic Biology: Synbio refers to the design and fabrication of biological parts and systems that do not currently exist in the natural world as well as the re-design of existing biological systems. In recent months the world has seen the first synthetic cells, and with biology fast becoming an engineering science, we will soon see evolved life as the building base for commercial production.

Per the Nike78 brief, one iteration of the concept was rendered in an artistic fashion, taking a pair of shoes and slicing them into a singular long strands and sewing a light transparent fabric around the piece as if it was the biological contents of the tapeworm. The pieces were then placed in large jars reminicent of organism preservation for scientific purposes. Additionally two Nike-esque ads were created speculating on the Nike language around such a creation/product. Special thanks to Josefine Jarzombek and Rosie Meckiff.

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  © 2103 J. Paul Neeley